EU states fall 97 per cent short of their refugee relocation target

The states agreed to relocate 160,000 people by 2017 but only 1,500 have been moved so far

Refugees and migrants queue for food at Idomeni. Credit:Alex Yallop/MSF

Last September, EU states committed to relocating 160,000 asylum seekers from Italy and Greece by 2017 as part of an emergency scheme.

However, figures released this week shows that just 1,568 have been relocated, suggesting that the member states are ignoring the agreement.

This is the second review of the relocation and resettlement scheme. The first, published in March, criticised the inaction of member states and established a target of 20,000 relocations by mid-May.

In the ensuing months, just 355 additional people have been relocated from Italy and Greece — three per cent of the current target.

‘We cannot be satisfied with the results achieved so far,’ commented Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship, Dimitris Avramopoulos. ‘More has to be done, and swiftly. We need to quickly respond to the urgent humanitarian situation in Greece and prevent any deterioration of the situation in Italy.’

Avramopoulos also emphasised that people smuggling can only be effectively addressed if it is clear that safe, legal channels are in fact open to asylum seekers.

Seven EU states — including the UK — have not relocated any people under the agreement.

Since the humanitarian situation in Green is ‘getting more acute every day, Avramapoulos called for an immediate improvement, saying he hoped to see a significant increase in the coming days and weeks.

In recent days, tensions have risen higher than ever in the overcrowded Idomeni refugee camp on the Greek-Macedonian border, with clashes between refugees and police.

Medecins Sans Frontieres was forced to evacuate its staff and some patients yesterday, as camp residents pushed a train carriage towards the border in protest, and the police responded by firing tear gas.

‘The European leaders have abandoned these people behind closed borders in inhumane conditions,’ said Cristian Reynders, Field Coordinator in Idomeni.

‘They are growing more desperate by the day: they have no access to asylum procedures, relocation or family reunification. No humane alternative is being offered to them.

‘Idomeni has become the symbol of the inhumanity of the European Union migration policies.’

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